On the tour around Naxos we stopped at a ceramics shop. Here's the ceramist demostrating how a little clay bird whistle works. It's fashioned just like clay whistles were made in ancient times for children to play with. There were also some attractive pots and other ceramic objects which were tempting to buy. But how to transport them home?
This was the Kitron distillery. The kitron (citron medica) looks like a big lumpy lemon. It has a thick rind and unlike a lemon, yields little juice. Until the Byzantine era it was the only kind of citrus fruit growing in Greece and it's believe that Alexander the Great sent it home from Persia as the ancient Greeks called it a "Median apple". Citron trees are fussy about where they grow, however they have been thriving on Naxos for centuries. Although the fruit is not very edible, the Naxians preserve the rind in syrup. They also put the aromatic leaves of the tree to good use by distilling it into a drink called kitoraki a kind of raki made from the leaves and grape skins. They also make a liquer called "Kitron" which comes in three colours and potencies: the white is the strongest, the yellow a bit sweeter and the green, which is delicious, has the least alchohol. It goes very well with fish dishes. It's a specialty of Naxos but I found a bottle of it in a wine shop in Athens so I have a bottle here which I bring out on special occasions.
A pretty display of kitron bottles, all shapes, sizes and potencies!